10 Brands that Became Themselves

Many brand names are actually the words that we use to call other brands in the space. They have become so successful that they not only transcend the space, but they have become the “generic name” for all similar products. Need a Kleenex? Do you cook in a Crockpot? These brands not only have stories — they’ve spent a ton of time and money to get to where they are. That’s why, if you look at many of the brands below, they have been around for a very, very long time — so much so, they have become part of our “pop” culture.

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1. Kleenex
klennex logo
Anytime we grab a tissue, it has become grabbing a Kleenex, but this product is a trademark of Proctor & Gamble. Think about that next time you reach for a soothing Kleenex. Originally developed in 1924 as a method for removing cold cream, the Kimberly-Clark Company changed their product’s purpose when it was found that Hollywood film studious were using their product to remove makeup. Smart marketing move!

2. Crockpot
If you’ve ever wanted a warm stew in the winter or have wanted to have the whole meal slow-cooked and ready when you arrived home, then you have used a Crockpot OR called another brand by that name. It was originally introduced in 1971 by Rival, and every slow cooker became known as a Crockpot. Originally named the “Slow-Cooker,” it did not see a rise in sales until the Australian inspired name “Crockpot.”  This is a great example of how the name itself of your brand is key in how people perceive it and affects their affinity and reach for your brand or products.

3. Google
new google logo
We have reached a point in time where you most likely don’t search for anything online anymore, rather, you just “Google” it. The search engine has accounted for so much of the internet, that not only has it become a verb, but it has come to be the only search engine most people worry about.

chapstick logo4. ChapStick
Ever reach for a lip balm? Most likely not; you’ve probably referred to it as ChapStick. This brand has so become a part of the vernacular, that most people do not have another word to describe a product that helps and prevents chapped lips. Kip Martin originally bought the rights to the brand from his doctor, Charles Brown Fleet, in 1912, for a whopping $5. The brand was mildly successful until its current logo was created in 1950 by artist Frank Wright jr.— proving that there is definite value in having the right logo.

sharpie logo5. Sharpie
The permanent maker came many years before the Sharpie Brand came on the scene, but it wasn’t very long before everyone was reaching for a Sharpie. The company was originally launched by Sanford, a pencil manufacturer in 1964, and was bought in 2006 by Rubbermaid.

new xerox logo6. Xerox
Xerox so pervaded their space that office employees no longer asked for copies to be made; instead they requested documents to be Xeroxed. With aggressive marketing from competitors, the office systems manufacturer has since become less popular, but the impact they made is still felt across the industry — “Xeroxing” is still a common and much-used term for photocopying.

new tupperware logo7. Tupperware
The Tupperware manufacturer helps you to keep you food fresh, and has been doing it for so long that they have become synonymous with the plastic containers that we keep food fresh in. This handy product was developed by Earl Tupper in 1946, who’s sales boomed in the 1950’s with the advent of home-sales parties. (aka- Tupperware parties.) After a long meal, we go under the counter, and grab the “Tupperware” (most of which is is probably Gladware or Ziploc)  and place the leftovers in it to keep it fresh.

duck tape logo8. Duck tape
The derivation of this fix-it-all product is very interesting. The product was originally created by Johnson & Johnson and got its name from the type of material used to create it. The tape material is fastened to “Duck” cloth, and hence its name Duck Tape. Though it has ambiguously been called Duct Tape, it was most likely not sealing off any duct work, and these days is marketed more as decorative tape for crafting purposes.

9. Band-Aidband-aid logo
Another Johnson & Johnson brand, which has literally become exactly what its brand is called. Is there any other name to call a Band-Aid? “Adhesive bandages” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, and thus this long standing product name continues to be the entire product space in the minds of consumers. The product was originally developed by Earle Dickson to help his wife quickly dress her constant cooking wounds!  Due to the success of the product, by the time of his retirement, Dickson was VP of Johnson & Johnson.

10. Popsicle

popsicle logo

This icy treat was originally created by 11-year-old California native Frank Epperson, by freezing soda and inserting a tongue depressor. Later on, he changed the name to “popsicle”, a nod to its soda-infused roots. The name was so popular that it led to the tongue depressor being called a “Popsicle Stick.” The brand was sold to Good Humor, a Unilever brand, in 1989.


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The moral of the story: Strong branding — from product name to logo — can help your company rise above all the others, and that is how brands become iconic. The name must be something that people can easily remember, and be seen and heard so often that they’ll never forget it. Logo design creates an instantly recognizable and memorable visual key to your brand identity. It also doesn’t hurt to have a former president butcher an attempt to use your company name as a verb: “Use the Google.” No George, its called Googling; now that’s a brand that pervades space.

Can you think of more of these which didn’t make our cut?
Post a comment and let us know!